© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

North East ISD trustees approve $62.5 million deficit budget

Steps up to the entrance of a brick building with "NEISD Richard A. Middleton Education Center" hanging on the brick.
Camille Phillips
North East ISD's four new trustees approved their first budget June 17, 2024.

The North East Independent School District, like many districts in San Antonio and across Texas, is planning to spend millions more dollars than its expected revenue for the 2024-2025 school year.

NEISD trustees unanimously approved a $612 million budget for the general fund on Monday — nearly $63 million more than the district’s expected general fund revenue.

The district passed a $58 million deficit budget last year, but district leaders said earlier this month the actual deficit was closer to $34 million. Most of the cost savings came from vacancies. The district expected the actual deficit for the coming year to be under $42 million.

“This has probably been the worst budget I've had to do as a superintendent, because what I want to do and what we can do are so vastly different,” NEISD Superintendent Sean Maika said on June 10 during a board presentation on compensation.

“The trepidation that I have going into this next year with a legislative session with so much that has changed is real. I'm watching across the state, and I'm listening to some of my colleagues making decisions that make myself and [the finance department] extremely nervous. Because I think they're playing a very risky game with their school district and their school district’s future.”

Districts across Texas and San Antonio have tightened their belts and passed deficit budgets the past few years to counteract rising costs with no increase in state funding.

The Texas Legislature hasn’t increased funding for public schools since 2019. A proposal to increase per student funding during the 2023 legislative session failed after it was tied to a bill to create private school vouchers.

Northside ISD — the only Bexar County district larger than NEISD — projected a nearly $100 million deficit next year. San Antonio ISD, Bexar’s third largest district, recommended a $53 million deficit budget.

Northside and SAISD both gave staff 2% raises in recent weeks, but the superintendents of both districts warned that drastic cuts will be needed in the future if the state doesn’t increase funding.

North East ISD is giving a one-time retention payment in November instead of a raise. Teachers will receive $917. Support staff will receive a minimum of $375.

NEISD’s 2024-2025 budget also has 102 fewer teaching positions and 16 fewer central office positions.

“Salaries and benefits make up the vast majority of our budget. It usually averages between 85 and 87%,” Susie Lackorn, NEISD executive director of finance, said on June 3.

“We have a shrinking enrollment, and with that comes a decrease in the need for staff, primarily teachers,” she explained. She added that the district has set aside $2.5 million in the budget to hire more teachers if the student to teacher ratio exceeds accepted limits.

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Education News Desk, including H-E-B Helping Here, Betty Stieren Kelso Foundation and Holly and Alston Beinhorn.

Camille Phillips can be reached at camille@tpr.org or on Instagram at camille.m.phillips. TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.